So Distracted… By Work

I love my job! I can’t imagine how society functioned before everyone had jobs. One day, I shall have to pull out a few Jane Austen novels and peruse them just to find out: what excuse do you come up with for letting a relationship tail off when you haven’t got a job?

I’m thinking of the guy with whom I had a great pre-date telephone conversation. Or at least, I thought it was great, and pre-date.
“I’d love to drive in for a date,” the guy said at the end of the call. “But I’m really busy with work these days. Let me be in touch when I find the time to come in.”

Odd thing, that. The shadchan had assured me he was unemployed. I guess he was busy hunting for a job? I should mention that this happened two months ago. I haven’t heard from him since. Phew! Unemployment sure does swallow your time!

And what about the guy who was everything (in theory) that a Dater could want? Granted, she wasn’t especially attracted to him, but that could come with time. She wasn’t going to throw out a great guy like this on a technicality. He was steady, he was sensible, he had a good job he loved, he was responsible…

Darnit about the job! Turns out he loved that job more than he loved her. They went out a few times, spoke on the phone, exchanged a few emails, and then…

“Sorry this was so short. I’m really busy with work. I’ll email you something longer when I have more time.”

That was the last she heard of him.

Sometimes, late at night, she wonders if she should have done something when he disappeared. Called the cops and reported a missing beau, probably buried under a toppled pile of documents in the back of a government office… What with the sequester, they might have cut the cleaning crew, and nobody would ever find his body now until they cut the A/C in the fall and it started smelling.

When someone starts using work as an excuse for falling out of touch, it means the relationship is dead—they just haven’t acknowledged the body yet. They’re like the girlfriend who propped her dead BF in his lazyboy, turned the TV to NASCAR, and placed a beer in his hand. Unable to admit that they’d crossed the point where gravity was exerting an inexorable tug on their bond, they waffle along until they drift so far apart they don’t even realize they’ve broken up.

I’ve done it. I’ve even used work as an excuse. And I hate that lack of closure. I guess it’s closure enough that neither of us pursued closure. But if I could go back, I’d ditch the cowardice, be a (wo)man, step up to the plate, and say, “Let’s break up.”

That’s what a friend of mine had to do.

Things were thrumming along between the two of them—they went out twice a week, texted several times a day, and spoke almost every night. Until Pesach.

“sry,” he texted after their week apart. “been bsy w/wrk.”

A few days later she called to ask if they were “okay.”

“Yes, of course we’re okay,” he said, a little distracted. They spoke about the weather for a half-hour and hung up. Two days later he texted that maybe they needed some time apart to think about “things.” Unwilling to watch their relationship die, slowly, writhing on the hot pavement, she did what he should have done. She talked him though a breakup. Via text message.

Then she sat down on her living room floor and cried for two weeks straight.

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How to Solve Your Shidduch Crisis: Work for Chuck

Chuck Schumer, it turns out, is a very successful shadchan. One notably thing about this article is how many of the names of the couples sound Jewish.

Can we get him more involved in the greater frum Jewish community?

I’m Old – I’m Young – I’m Old

NASI, our local favorite do-gooding organization for singles, has come up with yet another dollar-driven plan to marry us all off.

For those not in the know, NASI is the North American Shidduch Initiative. They believe strongly that the Shidduch Crisis is an issue with numbers, but they also believe that it can fixed with numbers – number framed in green and in close proximity to a president, preferably.

NASI is regarded by this blog as a well-meaning but misguided fellow – the sort you’d pat affectionately on the head while explaining why yet another one of his crazy schemes won’t work. After all, they (whoever they are) do try hard. And they do seem to believe that their ideas are absolutely amazing. One imagines their little think tank arguing things out in an ivory tower before enthusiastically bursting forth to purchase full-page ads, without ever running them past a real, live person.

At lunch one day, Finance Manager was holding forth on the sorry state of the single scene in her life. She explained that all she wanted was a guy with a job and all his teeth and not a total jerk, but she couldn’t find one and that’s why she was still single. “Me too,” I agreed. She cast a cold glance at me, as if to say, “Did you hear mewling from the nursery?” Embarrassed, I realized two things:

(1) I was 25, which was probably a good 7 years younger than her, and too young to get married by her standards and

(2) I look about 20 and have the job generally held by an entry-level 21-year-old, which made my comment even weirder.

I’m used to being practically middle-aged, but her approbation jerked my life back into perspective. Hello! Bad4! You’re not that old yet!

Then, last week I see this little announcement by NASI. It’s yet another scheme – this time a GAMECHANGER! They’re going to marry off all those over-the-hill grannies (well, not grannies obviously – great-aunties?) with their latest and greatest Shidduch-Crisis-Solving Scheme.

Who are those old maids? Well, their scheme starts with the 22-year-olds…

Ouch.

Hey Finance Manager, don’t look at me like that. I am way old and single. NASI even said so.

Quote of the Week: Why I Moved

Setting: Lunchtime in the cafeteria at work. Bad4 is sitting with a pair of finance managers and explaining how she wound up in the neighborhood she wound up in.

Finance Manager 1: So, you’re Jewish?

Bad4: Yep.

Finance Manager 2: So are you hoping to find a nice Jewish boy out here?

BAd4: choking noise followed by coughing. Um, no. I think that’s a lost cause.

Turning Down Dates

For the third time in my life, I found myself explaining to a colleague why I won’t date a non-Jew. It was my fourth time running through it (once I had to do it on behalf of another orthodox girl in college whose identity I still don’t know), so I condensed it into one convincing but diplomatic line. Nothing against his friend who sounds like a great guy—this is just how it is. But I was beginning to note a pattern.

Non-Jewish men with strong values dig orthodox women.

Yes, ladies. There are guys out there who think you are hot stuff. Your aidelkeit catches their eye and they like what they see.

Okay, I’m laughing. I mean, I’m not exactly the prototype aidel bais Yaakov maidel. Not for lack of trying—I really gave it a shot once. But it just didn’t take. Still, compared to my colleagues, I’m the picture of sweetness and modesty. Also, I’m nice, friendly, kind, thoughtful, considerate, generous, and good with kids.

Oh wait, this isn’t my shidduch profile. Scratch that.

Anyway, this little discovery was a boost to my self-esteem. In addition to the demographic of men over the age of 50, it turns out I am also of interest to non-Jewish men with strong family values. At this rate of discovery, I might find a Jewish demographic to date by the time I’m 30. Hey, they must be out there.

Has anyone else had to field feelers from non-Jewish colleagues?

No Flare Up

It was at the bottom of my bottom drawer – the one with my Chai Lifeline running t-shirt, lifeguard whistle, and assorted activewear. I  tossed it down there long ago when the drawer was designated for things I use infrequently.

It’s a silver matchbox holder and tray. It was given to me in Israel, as an entirely unnecessary thank you gift from the family I helped out on Thursday afternoons. The mother said she knew I didn’t need it yet. But she figured that one day I would be married and lighting candles and I should use it then. She also offered herself as a shidduch reference, by way of expediting the process.

I brought it out for the first time Friday evening. It felt odd. That is, it felt odd because it didn’t feel odd.

If my life was a novel, striking that match would have brought on a wave of self-pity and maybe the bursting into of tears. Instead, I observed that it was really quite pretty, but a little tarnished from sitting in that bottom drawer so long. Then I lit up.

Life is pretty full at the moment. There are intense ups and downs, tons to do at home and at work, and new struggles to overcome. Being single is really the easiest thing to deal with. I mean, I’ve been doing it my whole life. I can do it almost without thinking.

And secretly, in the back of my mind, I pack away remembrance of every high and low, for withdrawal on that day when I have to support a partner going through the same things.

The theory in most workplaces is that the best way to learn is to be thrown in the deep end. This way you know what questions to ask. Instead of “What is buoyancy?” you’re asking “Is there a significant introduction of drag from underwater arm recovery?”

But an important secret to success is to engage in directed study as soon as you hear that you’re going to be working in a pool. You read about water, maybe stick your head in a full sink, read swimmer biographies, and check out some books on hydrodynamics. On that first day you spend less time flailing around and more time trying out all the things you’ve heard about.

So, maybe I’m not getting experience on the ground, but that just gives me more time to do advanced reading and practices.

To paraphrase the unemployed:

I’m not single. I’m in transition.